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The Deserter's Tale: The Story of an Ordinary Soldier Who Walked Away from the War in Iraq Hardcover – Jan 19 2007

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Hardcover, Jan 19 2007
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Anansi; 1 edition (Jan. 19 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887842089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887842085
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 2.3 x 24 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #66,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"...a story worth telling: how a good man became lost in an immoral system..." -- Quill & Quire, March 2007

"The Deserter's Tale is a very slim book, but it never pretends to be more than one man's account. Key does the math, as should the reader: If this is what one soldier saw in seven months, imagine the sum total of the inhumanity being perpetuated in Iraq." -- Toronto Star, February 11, 2007

"The case of Joshua Key . . . is unique. He is the first US soldier who actually served in Iraq to claim sanctuary from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, based on his `personal experience with atrocities' in Iraq. . . .Key will be able to raise the question of the war's legality as a defense." -- -- Michael Roberts, The Province

"The writing is fluid, crisp and compelling. The story is shocking... [told] with unflinching frankness..." -- The Gazette, February 3, 2007

"What's most engaging about this book is its essential honesty... The Deserter's Tale ought to be required reading for soldiers heading overseas..." -- The Globe and Mail, February 10, 2007

From the Author

When I was still being recruited in Oklahoma City in 2002, I had to sign a paper to the effect that I had read and understood a warning from the military: Desertion in the time of war means death by a firing squad. That just about sums it up. We could do whatever we wanted to Iraqis. But if we ran from duty, there would be hell to pay. I will never apologize for deserting the American army. I deserted an injustice and leaving was the only right thing to do. I owe one apology and one apology only, and that is to the people of Iraq. -- Joshua Key

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By K. Sailor on Jan. 29 2007
All the hype about "bringing democracy to Iraq" comes crashing down as it ought in this gritty story of the American army.

Joshua Key was so crushingly poor that he fell for the advertising and decided to enlist to guarantee a regular paycheque and healthcare for his family. Given guarantees that he would be building bridges within the continental U.S. - they pulled that line on my friends during Vietnam, too - he was sent to Iraq six months later.

The idiocy of the American campaign is made eminently clear as Josh tells in painful detail about how he never even saw the enemy - and spent his time brutalizing Iraqi civilians as directed by his officers. Iraq wasn't a haven for terrorists before the American invasion - but it is now, and the Americans are the ones who made it that way.

This book will give you a good picture of life as a soldier in Iraq, and give you pause when you think about what our men are probably doing in Afganistan right now.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Agatha on Feb. 21 2007
Joshua Key, a U.S. army soldier dared to think critically and he dared to follow his heart. Joshua knew that what the soldiers of his unit were ordered to do was wrong. They had been convinced that all Muslims and all Iraqis, including women and children, were the enemy. There was no separation between terrorists and ordinary civilians. Shoot first....use force....shut your mouth....follow not question authority.

Soldiers were kept on edge, kept fearful and with a lack of sleep. Violence was normalized and all Iraqis and Muslims were dehumanized. At first, the nighttime house raids created a rush but as time went on, Joshua recognized the hundreds of violent house raids for what they were, acts of terror on innocent civilians. Joshua relates stories about atrocities committed by American soldiers and abuse of power with no accountability.

Nightmares followed Joshua home to the states after his tour of duty in Iraq. Much anguish and thought went into his decision to not go back to Iraq.

This story is well-written and is a rare look inside the U.S. military. Definitely worth the read.
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A Deserters Tale destroys the myth of the US war on Terror and the compaign to bring Democracy and Freedom to Iraq. When Joshua Key's conscience could stand no more he fled to Canada with his family. However the Canadian government has refused to accept US War Resisters. Thankfully some Canadians have welcomed and are aiding the courageous men, women and children. The book is a must read.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Christine on Sept. 4 2007
This book is very readable as it didn't take me long to get through it. It's well written too. You literally see the transformation of a man from loyal, patriotic American to soldier to disillusioned deserter. He gives you a very good glimpse of life on the frontlines in Iraq. Overall, one is left with deep sorrow for a man who grew up in a poor, abusive household, got drafted by the US Army if only because the recruiter outright lied to him, was made to commit atrocities on behalf of the US Army in Iraq, and had had enough. No review can do this book justice. It should be required reading in schools. I wish Mr. Key and his family peace.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Deserter rationalizes his actions Oct. 24 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on
I am glad I read this book for a number of reasons. However;it is difficult to write a review on this book without bringing in one's personal feelings and opinions.
This man was not drafted ,or in any way forced to join the U.S. Army.He explains why he volunteered and is quite open in the fact that he did not join to be sent into action.He maintains that he was assured that he would not be sent into action by his recruiter.We have no option but to take his word for that. He goes into great details on some of the things he did in Iraq and many of his fellow soldiers. All these things are unsupported and the others who he accuses are not available to agree or disagree with what he says.
There have been deserters in all wars;and they have their own way of rationalizing their actions.He knew the penalty for desertion was most serious ;and I am sure he did not take his actions without serious consideration.
Be that as it may,a Soldier takes an oath and gives up the option of deserting if he is unhappy with the way things are going.There are many others in the long history of war;who have not agreed with everything and they lived up to their oath ,and yes,many paid the supreme sacrrifice; but did not opt for the path of desertion.
From everything we see in this book,this man probably should never have been in a volunteer army;but that choice was his. In other times, when men were drafted into service;most served honorably even though they may not have wanted to or did not agree with the reasons for war.Desertion was not an option to them either.We saw many who were drafted to serve in Vietnam,avoid the draft by becoming Draft Dodgers and came to Canada.It has always bothered me that people who decided that they would not fight for their country would rationalize that it is their right and let someone else do it. When they dodge the draft or desert,they leave their country and look for another country to "take them in".Would they serve their adopted country if required? The other question that begs an answer is should they ever be given amnesty years later?How can that ever be just to those who did their duty and serve their country?
I have never agreed with the government giving grants for the publishing of books.The fact that The Canada Council for the Arts,The Ontario Arts Council and the Government of Canada have contribited funds to publish this book about a person who has broken his country's law is inexcusable to me.